The following thoughts came to Fr John O'Neill, parish priest of Doonside, in the Parramatta Diocese, while riding between Krambach and Taree, NSW, on 26 May 2007. On 21 July, Fr O'Neill celebrated 45 years of his priesthood and included this poem in his parish bulletin with the words: 'It is my hope that, some day, someone from our parish will join those privileged ranks, and discover what I have tried to express in the following poem.'
'Among the Apostles'
Ah! to be in that sturdy boat at the edge of that rippling sea:
Among those blessed fishermen, to be part of their destiny!
To hear His invitation: 'If you come and follow me
You will catch much more than fish, my friends, 'round these shores of Galilee.'
* * *
Ah! To stride with Him those countless miles and with Him to be truly free;
To thrill in those shining moments, when He smiled - and smiled at me!
Oh chosen Twelve! In Heaven you were as you walked in His company:
Would I could race through the centuries and His choice could fall on me!
* * *
Ah! Grace indeed! His choice did fall, and I trembled in the Spirit's love
As 'Da quaesumus'* rang through the hallowed stones of the arches high above.
And the centuries since that day by the shore to Him matter not the least:
All is 'now' to Him: so among the Twelve I stand, for I am now a priest!
* The first words in the Prayer of Ordination.
Father O'Neill, who is an accomplished poet and author, has been a regular contributor to 'AD2000'.